24 July 2021

Equestrian: Sarah Cooksey tackles the Mongol Derby

July 24, 2015

Adventure and endurance sport may still be dominated by men at their upper ends, but women are catching up. One of the world’s toughest and most extreme races has already been won by a woman for the last two years however and Sarah Cooksey from the UK hopes to make it three in a row this year, and prove that when it comes to extreme endurance horse racing women are in the lead.


In the Guinness Book of Records for being the world’s longest horse race; travelling across 620 miles of Mongolian steppe, with rivers, hills, thunderstorms, vicious dogs, dehydration, sunburn and falls from semi-wild horses to contend with, there is little doubt The Mongol Derby also deserves its reputation as the world’s toughest.

Drawing in 40 competitors each year from around the globe, of which only half typically make it to the finish line, this year’s race includes riders from 13 countries, including some top male competitors in the form of a New Zealander who has competed in the World Equestrian Games and an international pro from America.


With nearly two decades of horse riding under her belt, 30 year old Sarah Cooksey believes her riding ability will be up to the level needed to be a serious competitor in the race, but hopes it is her general sporting experience that will give her the cutting edge she needs to win.

“The race is about much more than just riding. During the event you’re on your own and need to be able to navigate across hundreds of miles, sleep out in the open, speak with the locals and find water sources for yourself and the horses (every 25km horses are changed – so whilst the riders might ruin their bodies the horses don’t); and then there’s the fact you’ve got to try and manage the infamous bum blisters everyone keeps telling me about!


It’s going to be a true adventure and I’m hoping my climbing and biking experience will come into play and give me an edge over those competitors who only know horse riding.”

The race takes place from the 5th of August this year and will take the lead riders a week to complete. You can follow Sarah’s and the other competitors progress at www.theadventurists.com/mongol-derby

Sarah is sponsored for the race by Primal Pantry, Hy Equestrian, Vango and Derriere and is hoping to raise a minimum of £2000 for the charities Azafady and Cool Earth: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SarahCandDanielR

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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